Tay­lor faces a tricky test in awk­ward Vazquez, writes Daniel Her­bert

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Ris­ing Josh Tay­lor moves up in class to meet Miguel Vazquez in Ed­in­burgh

BOX­ING fans are never happy. They spend most of their time com­plain­ing that fight­ers are matched too softly, then when one takes a tough con­test - they crit­i­cise that too.

That’s the case with Scot­land’s ex­cit­ing Com­mon­wealth su­per-light­weight cham­pion Josh Tay­lor and his 12-rounder on Satur­day (Novem­ber 11) against Mex­ico’s Miguel Vazquez.

The fight, which tops the Chan­nel Five-tele­vised Cy­clone Pro­mo­tions bill at the Royal High­land Cen­tre in Tay­lor’s Ed­in­burgh home­town, is ac­cu­rately billed “Risk vs Re­ward”.

Crit­i­cism sur­rounds not so much Vazquez’s abil­ity - at 30 and as an ex-world cham­pion (IBF light­weight) he rep­re­sents a good test for the ris­ing Tay­lor - as his style, which pro­duces bor­ing fights.

At 5ft 10ins and with long limbs, Vazquez boxes in a very awk­ward man­ner that is the po­lar op­po­site of the tra­di­tional Mex­i­can get-stuck-in, left-hook-to-the-liver school. His nick­name “Titere” (Pup­pet) ac­cu­rately de­scribes the way he boxes like a pup­pet con­trolled by strings.

Miguel is the sort who can make an op­po­nent look bad even when they beat him. The bout that saw him lose his IBF 135lbs belt to Mickey Bey in Septem­ber 2014 is a case in point: Floyd May­weather pro­tege Bey won a split de­ci­sion but the ac­tion was so dull that he didn’t get much credit and his ca­reer never took off.

Vazquez’s six sub­se­quent fights (five wins, one points loss to later Luke Camp­bell points vic­tim Ar­ge­nis Men­dez) have been low-key af­fairs that haven’t in­cluded one ti­tle shot or even elim­i­na­tor. That un­der­lines the point: few want to fight Miguel un­less in a con­test or­dered by a sanc­tion­ing body.

So all credit to Tay­lor and his team for ac­cept­ing an op­po­nent most prospects would swerve. The tal­ented south­paw Scot and trainer Shane Mcguigan will surely have been work­ing hard on a strat­egy to over­come the prob­lems posed by Vazquez and not only beat him, but also en­ter­tain the TV au­di­ence.

Satur­day’s fight is for the WBC Sil­ver bauble, which earns the win­ner a high rank­ing with that or­gan­i­sa­tion. And with the out­stand­ing uni­fied cham­pion Ter­ence Craw­ford mov­ing up to wel­ter­weight, there will be plenty of ti­tle op­por­tu­ni­ties at 140lbs in the near fu­ture.

Tay­lor has al­ready made quick progress con­sid­er­ing he turned pro only 26 months ago and has had just 10 fights. In the last year he has won the Com­mon­wealth ti­tle by stop­ping Dave Ryan in five rounds and re­tained twice, last time (in July) by wal­lop­ing Ohara Davies into sev­enth-round de­feat in a grudge match.

He also found time to make his US de­but in Las Ve­gas and while it wasn’t his best show­ing - it was the only time he has been taken the dis­tance - he still out­pointed Al­fonso Olvera hand­ily in their eight-rounder. It was use­ful ex­pe­ri­ence for a man who had been knock­ing over op­po­nents early.

Now Vazquez rep­re­sents a test of a much higher or­der. The Guadala­jara man has mixed in top class for a long time: amaz­ingly, his de­but came against Saul “Canelo’ Al­varez (then 15) was back in 2006. Vazquez lost that four-rounder on a split de­ci­sion and while Canelo outscored him over 10 in 2008 it’s hardly a black mark given what Al­varez has done since.

The other set­back from Vazquez’s pre-world ti­tle days was a 10-round loss to Tim Bradley in 2007. Only world class per­form­ers have beaten the tough Mex­i­can, and if Tay­lor is to add his name to that list he must com­bine the hurt­ful punch­ing he showed against Davies (whom he floored twice) with the re­fined skills that made him a top am­a­teur, win­ning Com­mon­wealth Games sil­ver in 2010 and gold four years later.

The bet­ting here is that Tay­lor will, although he’ll have to show pa­tience early on be­fore step­ping on the gas in the mid­dle rounds to build a lead he will still have come the fi­nal bell.

On the un­der­card, promis­ing lo­cal star Ja­son Eas­ton, 10-0 (6), takes on Czech Re­pub­lic’s Josef Zahrad­nik, 9-0 (4), in a su­per-light­weight 12, Northamp­ton’s Chantelle Cameron, 3-0 (2), fights Mex­ico’s Edith Ramos, 6-1-1, over 10-twos, while there is a pro de­but for Ed­in­burgh ban­tam Lee Mcgregor, who com­peted in this year’s Euro­pean and World Am­a­teur cham­pi­onships.

THE VER­DICT Tay­lor must be at his best for this gam­ble to pay off.


FULL CREDIT: Tay­lor is prov­ing he’s not afraid to take chances

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